Thursday, April 9, 2020

April Thus Far

 Straddling the eastern/central timeline as we do, mornings at any time of year confound me. The curtains are pulled back and the blinds raised prior to the sun appearing.
The bedroom end of the house looks west, so I depend on the clock--and the cats--to launch me into the day.

Checking on the greenhouse is one of the first tasks of the morning.  The wet grass is cold through my garden clogs. Willis trails behind me, anxious to enjoy the warmth of the greenhouse. Sometimes he rolls onto his back, legs in the air in a corner beneath the 'L' of the benches. At other times he wedges himself amongst an array of pots and trays. A few times he has been turfed out for stomping through flats of delicate seedlings.
He always returns, basking in the heat.

The heirloom clematis, 'Candida' has settled in nicely along the wonky fence.
The original grew at our first Kentucky property; I've been able to move and nurture roots with our subsequent moves. 

Each year I take many photos of 'Candida'--I am intrigued from the moment the first tentative tendrils start to clamber up the trellis.  I watch as the buds plump, waiting for the morning that the first blooms slowly unfold.

Each detail of the flower is exquisite--even as recorded by my very simple camera.

 Temperatures tonight are predicted to be close to the frost mark--should I have attempted to rig a covering? 

The green shading is what makes this variety so lovely.

Capturing the dogwood blooms has been a frustrating exercise. 
It seems that the wind always stirs the branch just as I click the shutter.

Plantings above the east retaining wall are--for the moment--tidy. 
I expect that the landscape roses on either end will again frustrate me; marked as 'ground cover' they last summer reared thorny branches in all directions.

Seedlings of Clary Sage have been pricked out and potted on today.

 Lemon Balm was also transplanted today into plastic 'four-packs' such as commercial greenhouses use. I try to sow herb and flower seeds sparsely, but they seem to fall onto the soil like salt pouring from a shaker.  I can't bear to throw away even the smallest seedlings.

These miniature lilies spent last summer in a big tub, where they happily multiplied. I planted them last fall above the west retaining wall. I found several more little corms still in the tub and tucked them in with their mates.

Life has not changed greatly for us with the isolation orders. We don't go out to jobs, have no children home from school. Our church is closed and our young pastor has initiated 'Zoom' sermons and other meetings.  We miss the weekly gatherings. 
We continue to shop at the small stores in the nearby Amish/Mennonite community for such items as are needed to replenish our pantry.  As rural dwellers we have always bought many food items in bulk--flours, grains, beans, rice, all things necessary for baking. 

Jim goes most days to work at the property he is renovating.  I have been spending every possible hour outside.  I have dug over an extension to the perennial strip that edges the driveway, put in divisions of iris and lilies. 
During the past three days I have laboriously grubbed up the mat-like invasions of buttercup that threaten to swallow the garden.  It is heavy work!  I went out again last evening, laboring until the soft darkness came down and the moon began its climb from a nest of lavender-grey clouds.
Today although the sun has been bright there has been a sharp and chilly wind.  I couldn't bring myself to continue weeding; my aging bones raised a protest!
Instead I pegged sheets and towels on the line where they thrashed and flapped in the wind.
I was content to retreat to the sheltered warmth of the greenhouse, to lose myself in the quiet work of settling small seedlings into larger quarters where their roots can stretch and develop.

Strange times in which we are living.
So many confusing 'facts', scoldings, recriminations, warnings, dire predictions.
'Experts' disagree, conspiracy theories abound. 
It seems that usually sane individuals are obsessed with the need to frantically post and share their latest pet theories and sources.
We aren't ignoring the dangers and the seriousness of the pandemic.
Jim's maternal family is on their third generation of health care professionals--we talk with them, ponder their advice.
We live quietly, taking care, praying for wisdom.
The spring season unfolds as it always has.
We are still here.


  1. Enjoyed the record of your day, - and your quiet sensibility in regard to these weird times.....

    1. Hildred; There are moments when my 'sensibility' is threatened by the many 'what if' aspects of the immediate future. At such times retreating into a good book helps, or puttering in gardens and greenhouse.

  2. I'm glad your spring gardening looks like it is thriving. The lily planting looks very successful. Phil/MN

    1. Phil; I'm pleased that the lilies settled in; they were planted late after we finally had a fall rain. Every spring finds me outside impatiently poking to see what plants have over-wintered.

  3. These are strange times - living where we do, "out in the sticks", unless we turned the tv on we wouldn't know life was any different, except of course we are only TOO aware. Many restrictions here on daily life, but we are coping, and many local businesses have stepped up to the mark with deliveries/click and collect, to keep themselves from bankruptcy.

    The garden has been my focus since the good weather began, and we have made good progress out there, and with the logging, but now I am driven indoors by the high tree pollen count which even the steroids aren't controlling unless I stay INDOORS on a proper lockdown. I probably have 10 - 14 days of this, then it will happen again in June . . .

    I like to go to the greenhouse first thing too, and check what's come up overnight. Things are bursting through the soil now, which is a relief, though I had a crop failure with my Scarlet Emperor runner beans - had to buy some more and expensively, on line, and they were very hard to get hold of. A special birthday treat was the arrival of my Seeds of Italy Franchi seeds - mid-early and later peas, and two different sorts of cucumbers. Like you, I try to sow sparingly, but there are always too many candidates and I feel like a murderer if I chuck any runt seedlings away . . .

    I love your green-striped Clematis "Candida" - I've not seen that here though I expect it is offered. My clematis (I have over a dozen) have mostly come very cheaply from Morrisons supermarket, but I won't be getting any this year, and am mourning the shut garden centres too - walking round them is always a lovely treat in normal times.

    I have Lemon Balm in a pot on the windowsill, but no signs of it germinating yet. I wish we were neighbours!!

    Good luck with the pernicious weeds - I fight grass here . . .

    1. Jennie; Surely if we were 'neighbors' we be surreptitiously handing pots of seedlings back and forth. I would like to collect more clematis--from a more reliable nursery than the poor things I ordered last spring. Only one of the three survived. I walk about the dooryard wondering where I could tuck more plants!
      My favorite local nursery has posted that they are open for business, but would appreciate only a few shoppers in the greenhouses at a time. We are still considering how much we want to plant in the way of veg, but can get seeds from several local Amish/Mennonite venues.

  4. I am also on the eastern/central timeline. Strange, but we manage. The time on our phones will change depending on our place in the house. Love seeing your Clematis.

    1. Michelle; When our son was here to help build the new house last year he commented that his phone recorded central time down at the camper trailers, but during the walk up the lane to the house site it switched to eastern time. We still frequently stop to recalculate when we have appointments or errands in nearby counties. I'm glad you enjoyed the clematis--I am fascinated by it each year.

  5. I am hoping that this will 'go through' as many time I write, hit publish and all my words float away into ether. You are miles ahead of us garden wise!!! Here in Vermont we are experiencing April at her best and her worst....there once was a girl, who when she was good was very very good but when she was bad, she was horrid.

    On Wednesday I sowed some tomato seeds, all heirloom; this afternoon I have ordered the material for two new raised beds to house these tomato plants. For the past couple of years I haven't been able to rotate the tomatoes to another space and have had more that the usual blight issues.

    The Red Maples are in full bloom but that is just about it. Jane Magnolia is sulking as is my sweet scented viburnum just outside the kitchen window. Daffodils in my woodland garden are about the only bright spot for now.

    We are staying at home except for the necessities. It seems the right thing to do. I certainly don't want to be responsible for someone catching this dread disease. Your Governor is a very wise and forethoughted man!!!

    1. Mundi; April has a reputation as a capricious month in New England for sure, and can be quite unsettled here as well. Frost warnings three nights in a row last week and more cold nights as this dangerous 'cold front' sweeps through. Roses above the retaining walls are showing tiny buds, which will likely be frost nipped.
      I'm interested that you've been experiencing tomato blight in Vermont. I don't recall that as a problem in my gardens there. It is a discouraging factor here. We've found that heirloom varieties are slightly more resistant than the newer hybrids which advertise as blight resistant.
      I have threatened to order raised bed components from Gardeners' Supply, but I always renege. Jim likes to charge about with his Troybilt, says he couldn't do that with raised bed.
      My Jane magnolias didn't blossom at the same time. The later blooming one is still a paler color than its sister a few yards away. The leaves are also a lighter green. I think I should grub around it and apply some kind of fertilizer.